Canada law recognizes two types of lease agreements. Firstly, it is not always necessary to write anything down and sign it. The parties can simply agree ‘on a handshake’. However these verbal rental agreements may be difficult to enforce in the absence of an impartial witness.
Hence it makes more sense to have a written lease that clearly specifies the following critical aspects of the tenant-landlord relationship:
# The property the tenant leases from the landlord
# Details of the parties to the agreement
# What the ‘property’ includes, and what it does not
# The period of the lease and whether it may be renewable
# The conditions / circumstances whereby the lease ends
Both types of lease agreements should therefore define the legal responsibilities and rights of the landlord and tenant. This forms the basis for resolving any disputes that may arise in future. Courts lean heavily on them when reaching decisions.
Disputes Over Lease Agreements in Alberta
The Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation says it’s important to note local province and territory policies because these may vary.
In Alberta, a landlord may evict a tenant ‘on reasonable grounds’ by serving written notice. However the tenant may dispute the decision unless the eviction is over non-payment of rent.
In that instance, the landlord must approach either a court, or the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service (RTDRS) for a ruling on the eviction. Written lease agreements make their task easier, and are more likely to confirm what the parties originally agreed.
Grounds for Eviction of Tenants
Most disputes in Calgary arise when tenants withhold rent to force landlords to do something like effecting repairs. This is against the law because a landlord is “legally entitled to have the rent paid in full when it’s due” according to the Alberta Government portal.
Other causes underlying a potential eviction include damaging the rental premises, disturbing / endangering other tenants, and breaking the terms of a rental agreement.
As is the case with rental agreements themselves, eviction notices should also be in writing. They should confirm the reason for the eviction, any outstanding rent and the day and time tenancy ends.
The Importance of Reference Checking Tenants
In our experience the majority of defaulting tenants are ‘serial offenders’ who happily move from property to property in exchange for the pleasure of living rent free. Stonegate Equity cannot overemphasize the need to reference check thoroughly. It is far better to have rental property standing empty for a month, than to host a squatter free while paying for lawyer to evict them.